Zuma 'will establish an inquiry into state capture if instructed by the court'

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has placed on "record" that he will establish a commission of inquiry into state capture within a month if ordered by a court.

It comes as Zuma is seeking an order by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial actions, contained in her State of Capture report, reviewed and set aside.

The matter was heard in court last week and, at the 11th hour, Zuma abandoned a crucial part of the application which asks for the report to be sent back to the public protector for further investigation.

READ: Zuma's integrity under spotlight at state capture review application

This resulted in Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ordering all parties to file supplementary heads of argument explaining how the withdrawal would impact on the review application.

On Tuesday, responding to Mlambo's ruling instead of filing supplementary heads of argument, Zuma's legal counsel filed that a "just and equitable" order should be handed down by the court.

The proposed order reads: "Having announced an intention to appoint a commission of inquiry, it is recorded that the president will proclaim a commission of inquiry within 30 days of the date of this order".

Recommendations

Zuma also now wants the court to set aside the following recommendation contained in the state capture report:

  • That the Chief Justice choose a judge to head the commission;
  • That the commission be given powers of evidence collection "that are no less than that of the public protector";
  • That the commission's findings and recommendation ought to be sent to the president within 180 days; and
  • That Zuma must submit a copy with an indication of his intentions regarding the implementation to Parliament within 14 days of releasing the report.

However, this is what the respondents, who include the DA, the EFF, UDM, Vytjie Mentor and the office of the public protector who are opposing the application, had wanted the court to instruct Zuma to do.

'Bizarre about-turn'

Responding to Zuma's order, DA's James Selfe said the DA was "gobsmacked" by its contents.

"The president now says that he wants the public protector's remedial action set aside and instead, he undertakes to appoint a commission of enquiry headed up by a judge of his own choosing, and with terms of reference he will determine, within 30 days.

"As the public protector, herself noted, this would make him judge and jury in his own case."

Selfe said in another "bizarre about-turn", Zuma is also now content for the alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics to be investigated by the public protector.

"Either the president has lost touch with reality or he is changing tack yet again to fend off any charges."

Selfe said the DA had filed its supplementary heads of argument in which it argued that Zuma "is essentially trying to have his cake and eat it".

He said the DA had asked for Zuma to be directed to urgently implement the remedial action ordered by Madonsela.

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